Friday, November 21, 2008

Physical Therapy Redux

This week, after two weeks of being left to my own regiment of leg lifts, heel slides, and quad sets, I began physical therapy again. With so many bad experiences in the past on three different occasions raging from being unimpressed to being downright insulted, I was again reluctant to start a three-session-per-week, 4 to 8 week commitment. As always, I went in with open mind but guarded trust. It would all come down, as it always does, to the people involved.

Tuesday morning, after waking at 4:00am in anticipation of my first PT visit, I arrived 10 minutes early for my 7:45am scheduled initial consultation. I was so early, I got a parking spot right by the front door of the facility. As I reached for the handle to enter out of the morning cold, the door was locked. Not a good start. After a quick call to my wife verifying that I was at the correct place on the correct day at the correct time, I limped around in the blistering, cold wind to the back entrance. It was open! "How bizarre," I thought. "They really only want clever, resourceful patients who are resolute and tenaciously determined about their recovery to come to this place. Patients with reassuring, comforting wives." Luckily for me, I met the qualifications and I entered the building with confusion, apprehension, and hope.

As I signed it at the vacant desk in the totally empty, wide-open room, I saw an attendant way down the hall unlocking the front door. I could see my car beyond her. "Dang! If only I was on time, I wouldn't have had to walk so far," I thought. Oh well, being early has always been a character flaw of mine. As I wondered if I was going to be billed for the extra "therapy" I had to go through just walking around the building to get to an open door, I heard a female's voice say, "You must be the early bird." Her tone was pleasant enough, but I almost felt insulted, like I wasn't really supposed to be there and that they were being put out. "I'm Kevin Korpi, and it's not really that early for me," I said in the most cheerful defensive tone I could muster.

It turns out that she really was a very friendly person, the admissions officer. She offered me some coffee and a magazine as I waited for my therapist to arrive at 8:00am. I had already had a whole pot that morning, so I accepted the magazine and just a single cup of coffee. Monica, my therapist, shortly arrived and carefully, methodically, and thoroughly assessed my flexibility, balance, range of motion, strength, and pain tolerance. As a person who appreciates people who are professionals who take pride in their work, especially with a kind heart and good sense of humor (who doesn't?), I slowly let my guard down and began to think that this time it would work out.

She made very simple adjustments to all the exercises I was already doing in order to further isolate muscles to make the exercises more effective, from body positioning to simple reordering of the sequence of exercises. I felt a tremendous improvement immediately. Who ever knew that leg lifts could be so, so . . . . uplifting!!! The hour went by quickly, and soon I was talking to the friendly, professional, good-humored receptionist sipping another cup of coffee scheduling my subsequent appointments for the next 4 weeks. She even printed out my appointments for me on a calendar print-out, showing the exact date, day of the week, and time, three very essential pieces of information. I could easily tell at a glance when I was supposed to be where (not that I was any more clear on which door to use.) After my last experience, I was just so impressed with the whole, friendly, logical transaction.

Since then, I've been back twice, and have only become more impressed with the facilities and equipment available, the staff, but especially my therapist. She really knows what she's doing. Not that my other therapists were insensitive, but Monica really seems to care whether I not I get better and back to normal. Others in the past seem like they were just going through motions while I went through mine, watching the clock instead of watching the stopwatch. I have to ask so few questions because she volunteers so much good information regularly. As a result, I have more confidence in her, which means I have more confidence in myself and my ability to make a full recovery. Who knew I could like someone who does nothing but inflict pain on me--when she kneads my quad muscles, it's like torture!! Good thing she reminds me to breathe.

I still have a long, long way to go, but I'm making great progress everyday now with the sessions and the office and the improved home exercises I'm doing. Why just today, I improved from a maximum of a 72 degree leg bend to a 92 degree bend! Sure it wore me out and was very painful doing the squat exercise, and I know for sure tomorrow morning I will have lost a lot of that gained flexibility, but that's OK.

This is good pain for once, and the harder I work, especially under the guidance of someone I finally trust and respect, the quicker I'll be back to my old self: cliff diving, running marathons, and jumping off monkey bars!!

Just kidding. No more marathons.


Anonymous said...

I'm not kidding. No more cliff jumping or jumping off monkey bars either.

Anonymous said...

Glad you had a good experience and I'd listen to Shealynn if I were you.

Anonymous said...

Yes, you better listen to Shealynn. I'm so glad your PT experience was a good one.

Anonymous said...

c'mon dude

i think you got one more marathon left in ya. you just need to do another play with your son so youll have the confidence in that leg too. haha

peace out and stay up